What is Gig economy:

  • Gig workers take short-term contracts and will be paid for that. Examples of gig work are food delivery boys, uber/ola cab drivers, musicians, photographers, construction workers, on-demand workers etc. Gig work does include high-skilled, medium-skilled and low-skilled work. There are many apps and websites (Ex-Fiverr, Upwork) for the high-skilled workforce, such as software developers, doctors etc to take gigs. This kind of freelance work market is called a gig economy.
  • The gig economy is expanding at a rapid rate, especially after the pandemic.
  • Many countries are working on bringing policies to prevent the exploitation of gig workers and to make their working conditions more humane.

Reasons for the rise of the gig economy:

  • In traditional employment opportunities, employees have to work for a fixed number of hours. At present, there is a shift in attitudes toward work, with many individuals seeking a better work-life balance and more control over their careers. This is contributing to the rise of the gig economy.
  • Increasing unemployment rates are also forcing people to work in the gig economy.
  • Economic instability and job insecurities in traditional employment have led individuals to seek alternative sources of income and employment stability, contributing to the rise of gig work.
  • Many times, the gig economy is a win-win for both the company and the worker. Companies do not have to hire a full-time employee and thereby can save costs. Workers on the other hand will not be tied down by any company. After finishing the gig, they can work with other people of their choice.
  • Certain industries, such as technology, creative services, and consulting, have experienced a shift toward freelance-friendly models, further promoting the growth of gig work in these sectors.

Benefits of the gig economy:

  • Gig work provides autonomy for workers. The gig economy allows individuals to integrate work into their lives more seamlessly, enabling them to balance work commitments with personal responsibilities and activities.
  • Gig workers have the flexibility to choose when and where they work. Flexible work hours are one of the main advantages of the gig economy.
  • Gig workers can diversify their sources of income by engaging in multiple gigs or platforms simultaneously, reducing reliance on a single employer and potentially increasing overall earnings.
  • The gig economy provides individuals with the opportunity to be their own bosses, offering services or skills as independent contractors and pursuing entrepreneurial ventures without the constraints of traditional employment.
  • Digital platforms enable gig workers to connect with clients and opportunities globally, expanding their reach beyond local markets and potentially accessing a broader range of projects and clients.
  • Gig workers can choose from a wide range of gigs, providing variety and allowing them to explore different industries and roles, contributing to personal and professional growth.
  • The gig economy can provide accessible income opportunities for individuals who may face barriers to traditional employment, such as those with disabilities or individuals seeking supplemental income.
  • Gig work often incurs lower costs for companies compared to traditional employment, as it allows them to engage specialized talent on a project-by-project basis without the overhead expenses associated with full-time employees, such as benefits, office space, and ongoing salary commitments.
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Challenges of the gig economy:

  • There is no job security for gig workers. They often face unpredictable income and job insecurity as they lack the traditional benefits and stability associated with full-time employment.
  • Gig workers do not receive benefits such as retirement benefits, health insurance, accident insurance etc. like full-time employees.
  • Many gig workers are receiving pay less than the guaranteed minimum wage, which is unethical.
  • There is no guarantee of payment in some cases. Companies may delay or stop payments. There will always be this insecurity and it also causes stress.
  • Gig workers may miss out on opportunities for skill development and career advancement that are commonly provided by employers in traditional work settings.
  • Gig workers often work independently and remotely, leading to feelings of isolation.
  • Some gig workers overwork to earn decent money. Several gig workers complain of burnout. The exploitation of gig workers is one of the biggest challenges of the gig economy.
  • Some companies are encouraging people to work in the gig economy in their spare time. This can lead to a lack of time for personal life, which affects relationships and mental health.
  • Gig workers cannot usually collectively bargain for better wages, working conditions, and benefits, as they often operate as individual contractors rather than as part of a larger workforce.
  • The rise of the gig economy is a threat to some full-time employment opportunities. Some companies are replacing full-time employees with gig workers.

Way Forward:

  • In September 2020, the government of India brought a new labour code – ‘The Code on Social Security 2020‘, which extended social security to the unorganised sector workers including gig workers. The Code enables the central and state governments to frame suitable social security schemes for gig workers and platform workers on matters relating to life and disability cover, accident insurance, health and maternity benefits, old age protection, etc.
  • Gig workers can register themselves on the e-shram portal, a national database for the unorganised workforce. E-shram cards will be used for delivery of social security benefits as implemented by Central & State Ministries, such as accident insurance, pension etc.
  • Rajasthan government is giving identity cards to gig workers and is also establishing a fund for them. Karnataka government announced 4 lakh rupees worth of accident insurance for gig workers. Other states too should implement schemes to improve the situation of gig workers.
  • As per the statistics released by NITI Aayog, at present, 80 lakh people are doing gig work in India. It is expected that the number will reach 2.35 crores by the year 2030.
  • Providing free training and upskilling courses can ensure that gig workers stay employed.
  • There is a need to bring policies to protect gig workers from exploitation. Moreover, awareness programs should be conducted to help gig workers know about the relevant schemes and social security benefits.
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The gig economy will continue to rise at a rapid rate in the coming days for good. It can compensate for the high unemployment rates in India. It’s a good thing that gig workers are officially recognised and brought under the ambit of social security schemes. Working on the challenges of the gig economy to improve the working conditions is the need of the hour.
Photo by Norma Mortenson

Your Turn…

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  • ‘samajika badratha leni shramjeevulu’ article by Chinnarao Chitikela in Eenaadu newspaper.

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  • Anil, Feb 2, 2023 @ 12:56 pm Reply

    Gig workers are basically work-related jobs which exist for centuries like domestic helpers, and associate workers like iron man, plumbers, etc. With the change in time, technology has been involved and providing services. But to mention, these workers are still working in the same manner but the route of work and payment method has changed due to the trust factor. Uber is a prominent example, whose technology platform has increased the penetration of taxi services and resolved major issues like payment of ride km only and trust of engagement of verified drivers.

  • Vrunda, Mar 6, 2021 @ 8:44 am Reply

    The gig economy is so helpful for undergraduates, graduates to spend their monthly expenses also get some work experience if they are working in their respective domains of education. Because many of the times workers get paid less than they deserve. Also, the workers are not able to take any actions against it. So, I think Govt. Is taking a great initiative of social security for the gig workers.

  • Ankita Kumari, Mar 5, 2021 @ 10:29 am Reply

    Hey, Guyz I am Ankita…
    I would love to give my opinion on this topic because I have faced this situation.
    Actually, I am very glad with this gig economy opportunities, it’s because of flexible work hours, etc, but there is one thing which I want to mention is that there are a lot of works posted on freelancer, which demands security money with us, they told that they will regive you this security after final work.
    Is there any logic in this line? why they want security money? If they will pay us according to completion of work like once 20% then 50% then that will be ok.
    But before assigning work they are demanding money with us instead of paying.
    This is the only thing I am against to be working like gig workers.
    Gig workers are also human beings, gov should do something for them because I know there is no health benefits or any facilities, that’s ok..But demanding security money this should not happen.

  • Dip, Mar 1, 2021 @ 4:17 pm Reply

    It is so why the govt should make a perfect leak proof system and rule for the entire gig economy. Govt should protect gig workers interest. Above all we should not forget that gig economy provides a platform for self dependent. So, I think govt is taking right step for gig economy.

  • Riyaz Pathan, Feb 23, 2021 @ 9:20 am Reply

    When it comes to freelance some companies are froud they Charge money from freelancer

  • Abhishek Ranjan, Jan 28, 2021 @ 9:25 pm Reply

    Hi there I am Abhishek Ranjan.
    In my say gig economy has more challenges than benefits like lack of proper job and no reimbursements but it do gives a sense of autonomy to workers. Gig economy can prove itself beneficial in organizing a large workforce of unorganized sector which in turn be reflected in our growth rate.

  • Tinku Chauhan, Jan 7, 2021 @ 10:01 am Reply

    Hello guys I am Tinku chauhan
    And I am very glad to express my . According to me gig economy has a bright future in India . It is very helpful for those candidates who are not afford to leave his house especially I am saying for girl candidates
    By the help of these platforms we are success to get much money only by spend few hours and we manage our extra burdon . The major problem of these platforms is there is no guarantee for payment so it is a great decision taken by the government to make a law for gig workers. Thank you.

    • Dinesh, Jan 29, 2021 @ 9:27 am Reply

      But There are many website they r taking advance money from the their customers and they take their part from it and rest give to who complete the gig order.

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